4 crucial matchups to watch during Panthers at Texans in Week 3

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Robbie Anderson
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Robbie Anderson /
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Carolina Panthers
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Texans 4-3 ‘Tampa 2’ defense vs. Carolina Panthers YAC WRs

The Tampa 2 defense was once the darling of the NFL but as with all things a counter was found and it fell out of use, as did the 4-3 base as a whole. That hasn’t stopped the Houston Texans from attempting a bit of a comeback though.

The great majority of the Texans’ defensive snaps are played in a 4-3 scheme which basically means that they have four defensive linemen with three linebackers behind them. This is meant to keep those at the second level near the line while allowing them to bail out if they see someone running open across the middle like a tight end.

This idea was originally designed to neutralize the deep ball that was taking over the NFL at the time. The main premise is to keep everything in front of you, give up the short play but don’t let anyone score.

Almost like the “no doubles” defense in baseball.

This is all well and good against the high-flying offenses of the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks, but that’s not what the Carolina Panthers are. This team thrives on yards after the catch instead of the deep ball.

However, one place of concern is just how many defenders will be lined up across the middle. The place where the Panthers do most of their work, especially with Christian McCaffrey and Dan Arnold. Somehow unintentionally, a defense geared to stop the big play is also rather good at stopping a short passing game as well.

Even the weakest of defenses can cause problems if they have enough bodies in the area. Quantity is a quality all its own.

With the Texans keeping at minimum three defenders in the box there won’t be much room for anyone to get open, especially since it will be a zone scheme. And if someone does get open it won’t be long before a defender is there to greet them.

The only saving grace is the fact that the Texans struggle mightily to actually tackle when given the opportunity.

But the point still stands that this will be another test for the Panthers’ offense.